Are you looking for the best Switch simulation games? There’s something satisfying about compiling and curating your own little virtual world. The joy of amassing resources, and then arranging everything just right. There is a reason simulation games are so successful, we all want a little slice of life we can control.
Whether it’s managing the manic patients of a hospital, or gardening on your very own farm, there’s nothing quite as relaxing as organising your own space. Also, Animal Crossing is probably the only way most people in my generation will own a house, so I’m going to make mine look as good as the real thing.
The Switch is also the perfect place to sit back and relax, as you can do some simple tasks in handheld while lounging on the sofa, before heading off on an adventure on the big screen. So get cosy, make your hot beverage of choice, fire up the Switch, and let us show you the best Switch simulation games to unwind with.
Here’s our guide to the best Switch simulation games:
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
Part action, part rice-farming, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin balances exciting gameplay with some chilled out agriculture. You play as Sakuna, who must harvest rice to build up her powers, with a successful crop only adding to her many abilities.
You even attack with different farm tools, using your weapons to chain together exciting combos and slay demons. It’s a game that really manages the balance well, and with two sides of the coin both so satisfying, there’s a really addictive gameplay loop to get stuck into here.
Check out our full thoughts in our Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin Switch review.
While many games love to raise the stakes with world-ending events, Littlewood instead tasks you with looking after a world where the good guys have already won. The world has been saved, so now you get to relax as you rebuild the town, make friends, and explore to your heart’s content.
You can also use your resources to create new structures, such as taverns, a fishing hut, and even a magical library. This is a sweet game that focuses on the relaxing elements of the genre, so could be the perfect way to relax on a Sunday afternoon.
Two Point Hospital
On the slightly more stressful end of the spectrum, from the creators of PC classics like Theme Hospital, comes the spiritual successor Two Point Hospital. A wacky title where you manage your hospital and the many weird ailments of each patient, it’s up to you to carefully balance the books and expand your health care empire.
With all of the charm of the originals with a lot of modern bells and whistles, Two Point Hospital is a deeply satisfying game that you can lose hours to. It even has a recent Sonic The Hedgehog DLC, just in case you ever wanted to play doctors and nurses with Knuckles…
Taking inspiration from games is one thing, but to use that inspiration and improve on classic games in every way? That takes something special. Stardew Valley is clearly inspired by classic games like Harvest Moon, but lone developer ConcernedApe has somehow created one of the most relaxing and aesthetically pleasing virtual worlds to ever exist in. After escaping from the big city, your character must build up a farm and try to improve the town of Stardew Valley while making friends with its many citizens.
You can build the farm of your dreams over time, though it might take a few seasons, and you can even find a partner to settle down with. This satisfying simulation game nails everything good about the genre, while also offering a staggering amount of ways to customise both your farm and your home. It’s been a smashing success on Switch ever since its release, and now all eyes are on the creator’s next project, Haunted Chocolatier. It’s likely a while away though, so you’ve got plenty of time to unwind with one of the very best games in the genre.
If you’re checking out Stardew Valley for the first time we’ve got plenty of great guides to help you. Check out our Stardew Valley fishing guide, Stardew Valley farm layout guide, and our Stardew Valley villager guide.
Making the jump from PC to consoles with relative ease, the latest in the classic franchise looks and runs great on Nintendo Switch, and touch controls make it a breeze to organise and command your forces. You can build an empire and take over the world, if you’ve ever dreamt about conquering like Genghis Khan, this is the safest and probably funniest way to do it.
This version has all of the same content as other releases packed onto the handheld device and even offers a swathe of DLC options in case you burn through the main game quickly. It’s a great version of a classic, and thankfully the Switch port doesn’t skip a beat.
If you like your management with a touch of the macabre, Graveyard Keeper brings a lot of charm with a dark sense of humour, as you manage your own graveyard and make unethical decisions to try and save a few more bucks.
Why use hotdog meat when you have a fresh supply of… something else? Do these bodies need all that blood… maybe sell it on? It’s a funny title with a dark take on capitalism, it’s also wrapped around a great little management sim. If Stardew is too sweet for you, this could be the perfect game.
Slime Rancher: Plortable Edition
A sim with a slimy difference. Find, capture, and manage a huge collection of slimes, and then use their… droppings to make money. Slime Rancher is a great game for both exploration and management, as you spend as much time exploring the map as you do managing your slimes and earning money to purchase new abilities and equipment.
Building up your slime army and creating a huge farm to house them is immensely satisfying, and there’s so much to find and unlock that you’ll enjoy this title for days. The Switch port contains absolutely everything that other versions do, and runs smoothly as well, so this is a perfect way to experience the charming slime-filled adventure.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Nintendo’s niche simulation franchise became a worldwide smash last year, landing on Switch in March 2021 with a certain amount of serendipity, it went on to sell over 30 million copies. Manage your own island and befriend animal villagers, with this gorgeous and cosy little world. Animal Crossing: New Horizons expands the formula by letting you decorate almost anywhere on your island, and customise more than ever before. You can also use resources and DIY recipes to craft countless items, so you can make your Island the perfect expression of your own creativity. Or if you’re like me, you can forget about it for 8 months and dump half your items on the floor.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is just about to get a major update and paid DLC as well, with a wealth of new options and items coming to the base game, while the DLC Happy Home Paradise lets you decorate an idyllic holiday home for your favourite villagers and unlock new furniture by doing so. The latest update brings back fan-favourite features like Brewster the coffee-loving pigeon and those weird little items the Gyroids, so with all this in one package, there’s never been a better time to dive in. Don’t forget you can share the fun with friends and visit their islands as well, so with so much to offer this could be the only game you need.
The “cosy management-sim about death”, Spiritfarer has you playing as a young girl called Stella who must manage a boat on the River Styx, and help restless souls to pass over to the beyond. You curate your boat to be the perfect home for each passenger and help them manage their affairs by exploring the game’s map. It’s also got a beautiful animated art style that brings this sombre tale to life like a children’s storybook, with an emotive and gorgeous soundtrack helping bring extra personality to each moment.
Somehow Spiritfarer manages to balance being a great management game as you build up your boat and your abilities, while also offering a heartfelt tale of loss and redemption to each and every guest you have. Be prepared to cry, as this is truly a story about death, but it offers so much hope and fun that it might make you just as happy as it does sad. You can check out our Spiritfarer review for even more reasons to play, and then check out our interview with Spiritfarer’s creative director to discover more about the titles influences and impact since release.
Dragon Quest Builders 2
A strange but satisfying chimera of a game, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is part management-sim, part building game, and somehow part RPG all in one package. If that sounds like a lot of disparate elements, they’re actually woven perfectly together with a great story that picks up after the original Dragon Quest 2. Explore different islands and bring peace to the world by helping people rebuild villages devastated by demons.
This is a meaty adventure with some great twists and turns, that also offers so much satisfying gameplay when you return to your own island and build up the perfect little village for all the vagrants and vagabonds you pick up on your quest. There’s a heap of fan service for anyone who loves the Dragon Quest games, but even newcomers will enjoy this breezy story and the deep, satisfying mechanics that feel almost limitless once you start experimenting.
It hasn’t had quite the impact as Animal Crossing, but this epic adventure deserves to be mentioned in the same breath, as while it does things differently, it also improves on a lot of the building elements in amazing ways. Dragon Quest Builders 2 also has a lengthy ten-hour demo that carries over your data if you purchase the game, so if you’re even the slightest bit interested, it’s worth giving it a shot. It’s also worth mentioning the first couple of hours are a slog (sorry but I hate that pirate ship section), but as someone who’s spent over 100 hundred hours with the title, I promise you it’s worth persevering!
Cat Cafe Manager
If we weren’t game journalists, we’d probably be setting up a small cafe, serving lovely food and coffee, and taking care of animals in need. Well, I would anyway. Then along comes Cat Cafe Manager to make all our dreams come true while still lying on the sofa. An adorable simulation game where (you guessed it) you run a cafe willed with cats. I’m not sure if that’s a health code violation, I certainly don’t want tabby hair in my cheese and pickle sandwich, but we trust they know what they’re doing. You can find out more about this pawsome title in our full Cat Cafe Manager review.
What’s better than a good action game? How about an action game where you also run a shop and sell the treasures you find in dungeons? Moonlighter feels like two great games in one and manages to do both halves justice with its fantastic action and charming shop mechanics. There is so much to do in either half of this game, and they feed into one another, as you use the treasures you find and money from selling them to get bigger and better weapons. Then it’s back into an even tougher dungeon, to get even better loot. Try and find a better gameplay loop, I dare you!
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
What a life, just wandering around your little farm, taking care of animals, what bliss. Story Of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town brings back the classic farming gameplay that makes the series so damn charming, with a couple of neat changes in this gorgeous Switch entry. You can find out more in our full Story of Seasons: pioneers of Olive town review.
Hopefully, you’ve found your next obsession here and can unwind at the weekend with a new farm to manage or an island to explore. Nintendo Switch owners looking for even more new worlds to explore, check out our guide to the best Switch adventure games to find an exciting new escapade with slightly higher stakes.